What Grit Sandpaper to Use for Drywall
Sanding is a key step in producing a clean, level surface on your drywall work. There are a lot of sanding options out there, so you’ll need to figure out what’s right for your project. First, consider whether your project and budget allow for power sanding (versus manual sanding) and/or wet sanding (versus dry sanding). The choice of what grit sandpaper is right for a drywall project will depend on what method you choose and what compound you are sanding.
Appropriate Grits of Sandpaper for Drywall
Most drywall projects should be finished with sandpaper in the 150-220 grit range, depending on the methods you use. Higher numbers mean a finer grit sandpaper and lower numbers are coarser. If you choose sandpaper with a grit that’s too fine, you’ll have a hard time removing the joint compound on your first sanding attempt, and you’ll add time and effort to your project. Sandpaper that’s too coarse will leave visible scratches on the surface, so avoid using these when doing your final coat sanding.
Manual or Power Sanding and Grit
For smaller projects (or if you’re on a limited budget) manual sanding is a great choice. You’ll want to use slightly coarser sandpaper – around 100 to 120 grit – for your first pass because manual sanding with finer grits can take a long time. You can always refine the surface with a finer grit sandpaper – working towards 150 grit or so – once you’ve removed most of the excess compound with coarser sandpaper.
If you’ve got a big project, or if you’re sanding more than just seams – like a patch job that has covered a bigger area with compound – power sanding can save you a lot of time and effort. Because the sander is so powerful, though, you should start with a finer grit – around 150 – to avoid taking off too much or damaging the surface. Then, you can finish up the smooth surface with even finer sandpaper – around 180 to 220 grit.
Best Grit Sandpaper for Drywall (Manual Sanding): 120-150
Best Grit Sandpaper for Drywall (Power Sanding): 150-180
Dry or Wet Sanding and Grit
Another option is to wet sand with a drywall sponge. You can use a sponge for dry sanding, too, but they usually perform best wet. Sponges generally have different faces with different grits, so you’ll start from a medium face and then take another pass with a finer grit face.
Wet sanding is great for smaller projects and especially useful for corners and tight spaces since it’s easier to get the sponge into those areas than other sanding tools. Wet sanding also produces less mess since the water prevents drywall dust from flying off the wall as much. Rinse your sponge frequently as you work for the best results.
Sanding sponges don’t always have grits numbers like sandpaper but the same principles apply – stick to medium and fine. Very coarse sponges can leave marks and superfine sponges may take too long or be unable to remove joint compound at all.
Best Grit Sandpaper Sponge for Drywall: medium for a first pass and fine for a second pass
Other Tools and Tips for Drywall Sanding
If you’re planning to use sandpaper (rather than a sponge or power sander), consider a sanding block. This helps you cover more area at a time and ensures even pressure across that area for an easier time getting even results. Put down a drop cloth or tarp to protect carpets, flooring, and other surfaces from the drywall dust that comes off when you sand.
You’ll also need to invest in some safety equipment because drywall dust isn’t “just dust.” It’s made up of minerals that can be harmful to your health if they get in your eyes or lungs. Before you start any drywall sanding project, make sure you have protective goggles and a respirator or appropriate dust mask. If possible, seal the room with plastic to prevent the dust getting elsewhere in the house.
After you’re done sanding, clean up any residual drywall dust. Wet sanding can minimize the amount of cleaning in this step, as can a power sander with a dust collection attachment (essentially a small vacuum that collects the drywall dust as it’s generated).